Web 2.0 needs to move towards quality…

I was catching up on my RSS and podcasts consumption when I found myself getting very stressed.

Listening to “For Immediate Release” (Episode #341) there was a listener comment from Mitch Joel, who raised the issue of how are we supposed to manage all this information, links, networks etc.

Mitch used Twitter as an illustration:

Currently, if you look at my Twitter profile page, there are 1577 followers, while I’m following only 545 people. It used to be the same number, but I’ve become a bit of a Twitter Snob. I found it increasingly difficult to follow many different topics of conversation from people I did not know, who were talking to (or about) other people I did not know on topics that were of no immediate interest to me.

It’s a real problem. 

For most people* all this stuff is in addition to the “day job”.

The growth in smeedia content from blogs, to RSS, Twitter, social networking etc. hasn’t, in most cases, been accompanied by a growth in the tools and technologies to manage that content.

Success is often portrayed as connecting to thousands of people or having thousands of people connect to you.  But the noise generated from these connections can also make them practically value-less.

Conversation is a term often bandied about concerning Web 2.0.  But conversation isn’t about trying to hold or understand the commentary of 25,000 people.

Often volume is the most lauded feature. Don’t get me wrong, volume has its place.  But I do find that the work generated by trying to manage Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc. can be stressful and have a questionable ROI.

I think there is an ROI – which is why I continue to dip in and out, but volume isn’t everything (or the only thing).

For me, this proves we’re still at the early stages here and we’ve a long way to go.

There seems to be no end of individuals and organisations being able to ship volumes of content online, where it becomes compelling is where we get the tools to be able to mine, identify and use that data.

We’ll get there….

Footnote:

*This statement is not based on any fact or published research.  It is a rash generalisation – but it’s mine :-)

 

4 thoughts on “Web 2.0 needs to move towards quality…

  1. I just read a post about a similar issue at http://net-savvy.com/executive/social-media/keeping-up-with-social-mediathe-chocolate-fac.html
    One thing that can help is to understand that one can’t keep up with everything that is said and I mean everything even relevant to them. Now the question is what’s the limit? From what I’ve read here and there it seems that with the right tool and time, one can listen between 100s to a max of 1000 blogs for exemple.
    Choices needs to be made about who to listen to and how . Kind of making concentric circles of your relationship with at the center those that you want a close relationship with, then those with whom you want to interact on an ad hoc basis and last those from whom you receive an alert only if they talk about something you care about. All that being dynamic of course.

  2. Ah … the eternal “quality vs. quantity debate” on social networking. This used to be the hot topic on LinkedIn forums: do you connect to many people in order to widen your network horizon, or do you connect to a select few strong ties? In broader terms, is the potential incremental value brought by a weak tie worth having them listed as a contact?

    I think this makes a strong case for user-defined groups on Twitter. For example, sorting and grouping those you follow geographically so you can be in tune with your local “tweeple”, as well as by industry so you can stay up with the trade news. A grouping feature increases in importance and value as you follow more people.

    Following just a few people may work for those who are relatively new to social networking and have not built up many online contacts. However, early adopters of Twitter are in many cases also those who have hundreds of contacts on other social networks and readers on their blogs. How exactly does one make the judgment between following and not following someone? Do we set up rules for ourselves? What if our circumstances change and we need to reevaluate who we’re following? How often do we prune our RSS feeds, for that matter?

    Following people back has the added advantage of opening an opt-in direct messaging channel. If we could group our contacts like we can group our RSS feeds in newsreaders, we’d have the best of both worlds: opening a channel for direct messaging and focusing our attention on the groups we prioritize.

    @alexdc

  3. Surely each person needs to reach their optimum level of output/outtakes?

    I’m in the ascendancy right now, but I can see me reaching a sustainable level and then adapting to a one-in-one-out situation. But then I have limited my output to a few blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, my blog, and LinkedIn.

    Surely a major contributing factor to being a great PRO is having an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and news?

  4. Hi all,

    Great points.

    @laurent: I agree it will ultimately come down to the user and their interest level. However I think there’s a limit to the bandwidth that a casual consumer will invest – compared to a member of the digerati. I also think it’ll need to be easy for them to find what they want quickly.

    @alex: interesting comment. I think you’re right, to maintain your sanity you need to make the call regarding who you will follow or engage with online.

    But I also think your use of the term “value” is really important.

    Unless consumers see real value they’ll get bored and move on.

    I think many would be overwhlemed right now – I know I feel it!

    @Jed: Absolutely you should have a thirst for knowledge, you should be always learning, but I’m not sure 3,000 twitter feeds translates into a quest for knowledge :-)

    If this stuff is to become useful we need better tools to filter and find things that are relevant and useful.

    At the moment the “noise to signal” ratio is probably too high for many consumers…

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